When is the last time we've had two family dramas battling neck and neck for the best ratings of the week? I sure can't remember a time it happened in recent years.
But in ratings news this week, we learned This Is Us overcame Empire for the important L+3 category (live plus three days DVR viewing) for the week of November 26, with a 4.2 vs 4.0, respectively
That's one week after besting Empire in the L+7 category for the first time with a 4.65 vs 4.64 respectively.
More and more people are getting on board the This Is Us train every week. It has tremendous word of mouth, and when someone jumps on board, they want to talk about it.
On the other hand, viewers for Empire seem to have been jumping off, but I've seen little to no explanation about why.
The writing on This Is Us definitely has had fans deeply entranced, with heartwarming stories about family, personal growth and career aspirations, while keeping us on our toes with breathtaking reveals that began on the series premiere and have continued to impress by episode.
The Writers Guild of America took notice, as well, nominating This Is Us both for New Series, as well as for Episodic Drama with "The Trip," which combined the first time all three siblings shared screen time on a trip to the family cabin, as well as an unintended psychedelic trip for Randall after drinking mushrooms that reacquainted him with his deceased father.
Empire deals with a family who has clawed their way up from nothing to having everything money can buy. The story of well-to-do Cookie and her husband Lucious wasn't a fairytale by any means, and what they currently have was achieved with hard work, sweat, talent, crime and murder.
Their talented sons have also found themselves on the brink of bad behavior, even after having had so much given to them while growing up. Their issues are ones more difficult for the average viewer to understand. More glitz, more glam, with famous friends and gifts we could never hope to claim.
Big money struggles, corporate takeovers, prison stays and drug addictions, sprinkled with hit songs and all-consuming love wrecked by lustful affairs. It's the stuff of dreams, wish fulfillment and fantasy.
This Is Us, on the other hand, sinks closer to reality. In this world, there is still a TV star, but his big, mouthy mistake doesn't take him closer to the big time, but gets him fired. Brother Randall works in a big corporation, but he's not going to be taking it over anytime soon.
And their parents worked hard to put food on the table and make ends meet, but it didn't end with all of their dreams fulfilled, but perhaps the most important, keeping their family content and healthy, being the end result.
Their lives seem a little closer to ours. We can understand struggles with weight, with our siblings and not being satisfied with our everyday lives. Wanting more, but wondering if this is all there is.
I've seen the terms sappy, corny and quaint used in conjunction with This Is Us, but to me, it's real. It entertains by connecting with us and reminding us of ourselves, while Empire entertains with an over-the-top version of us, and what we could be if the world was tilted in a different direction, if we took chances we're unlikely to ever take.
These two family dramas are now battling each other for the top network drama of the year. They're both operating on shortened seasons, and since Empire was so far in front in the ratings to begin, it's doubtful This Is Us will come out the winner.
So we'll look to you, first, for your favorite. Tell us with which family you'd rather spend time. Would you prefer some Cookie witticisms or some of Randall's dry humor at your holiday table? Do you want to hang with the talents of the hot Jamal or hot Kevin? Kind father Jack or jackarse Lucious?
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The awards programs will also tell a tale, and it will be so exciting to see if some of the This Is Us stars join Empire's group as nominees for acting as new announcements are made.
So hit us up! What are your thoughts. What's the reason these two shows are currently the number one network shows and why do you watch? Do your moods affect which families you want to watch and when?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.